A measure that seeks to grant Social Security System (SSS) pensioners a P2,000 across-the-board increase has been revived at the House of Representatives.
On Wednesday, the Government Enterprises and Privatization panel okayed the omnibus motion approving the 15 bills that seek to grant a P2,000 monthly pension increase made by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.
The measure was rejected by former President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Zarate rejected the claim of SSS officials that granting a pension increase will bankrupt the SSS by 2025, noting that the government is mandated to fund the SSS under Republic Act 8282 or the Social Security Law.
“That doomsday scenario they are painting is not true because our laws provide that Congress can allocate subsidy to the SSS in the event that it runs out of fund. Besides, the government has been subsidizing big corporations. Why not subsidize our SSS pensioners for a change?” Zarate told reporters after the approval of the measure.
“No matter what happens, the government will be there for the SSS,” he added.
The lawmaker stressed that members will not be required to pay higher premiums because the SSS has adequate funding for a pension increase.
“The SSS has funds. Their collection is just at 40 percent, which is collecting just 40 centavos per P1. That is the problem. They said their collection efficiency reached 87 percent, but that is only for 2015. How about the previous years? Until now, they can’t say how much of the P325 billion they have collected, if any,” Zarate said.
He urged SSS officials to tap into investment returns and cut overhead expenses.
“Where can you find a pension fund unit that has 56 vice presidents who earn so much? If SSS (officials) really want to grant the increase, they can find other ways. Increasing the premium should be their last option, not the priority,” he stressed.
Former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo is also in favor of granting higher pension to SS members.
But SSS Senior Vice President George Ongkeko said its funds will not be enough to cover the P56 billion needed for the P2,000 pension hike.
“If the increase will be approved [without increase in premium], then we will have to follow the law. If we ran out of actuarial life by 2015, we can call in a government guarantee from the DBM,” Ongkeko said, referring to the Department of Budget and Management.